Identical twins were separated in their mother’s womb through an innovative treatment in Israel. The twins were dying when their 25-year-old mother arrived at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem and were saved through a procedure that penetrated the uterus and separated the twins’ shared blood vessels.
“We are talking about identical twins sharing the same placenta, and in fact sharing the same blood cycle,” said Dr. Yuval Gialchensky, a senior doctor at the maternity ward in the hospital who treated the woman, in an interview to the IDF radio station. “In most cases, the blood system is working in balance, but in some cases one fetus gets more blood than the other and the danger to one affects the second as well.”
The woman, a resident of a Palestinian village in her twentieth week of pregnancy, carried identical twins suffering deficiencies in their blood supply. After receiving a special pass into Israel, she arrived last week to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem and was taken into surgery. A small catheter was inserted into her womb and using a laser device, her placenta was burnt and separated to two parts – one for each baby. The procedure was carried out successfully and the lives of the twins were saved.
Until recently it was common to halt pregnancies of this kind, but a new treatment developed in different medical centers around the world has allowed to split shared blood vessels using a special laser device. While a third of twins still die during such procedures, in the remaining cases both or one fetus survives.
“The most important part is to determine the best place to penetrate the womb in order to not hurt the fetus and reach directly into the placenta,” said Dr. Yuval Gialchensky.